Thursday, April 5, 2012

Making the "old" NEW. For us.

My first blog post was on the man who created microlending, Muhammed Yunus. I find the nearly endless opportunities of quite a simple concept to be extremely intriguing. The question that always comes to mind as that fact turns over and over in my head is--if the concept of microlending is as basic as it is, and yet it was just recently discovered, what else is there (related or unrelated to microlending) that we are still unaware of?

As my presentation group was brainstorming ideas for our final project, I stumbled upon an organization that shed light on a new facet of microlending: domestic microlending. I, and most people, had considered microlending to be an amazing new discovery that can boost both supply and demand in "developing" countries. What I had never really thought of is that we, the United States, could adopt this concept in order to increase drive in our economy as a whole. On a national level, this could really make a difference in the way that our economy is going. To be clear, I am not saying that microlending, in and of itself, can turn around the United States' economy. However, seeing as we seem to be in a bit of a gridlock, with neither sides of the argument willing to budge, this could be a great opportunity to try something totally new! On a personal level, domestic microlending gives the opportunity for those who don't have enough resources themselves to invest as an entrepreneur, they are not completely S.O.L. (from 14:13)

The organization's name is ACCION Chicago, with a team of about twenty that work together to make domestic microlending more than an idea. The team consists of a CEO, two vice presidents (working in different departments), various team managers, and loan officers. What surprised me is the sheer size of the group of ACCION leadership. I was interested in this aspect of the organization because of one of the reading that we discussed, that of Uzzi and Spiro. Uzzi and Spiro discuss the interplay between the heads of a Broadway show. While this is superficially more creative outlet, the theory of the "dynamic structure of the creative artist network" remains applicable.

ACCION's team, according to Uzzi and Spiro could have a network like this. The internal network of the organization would consist of mainly the leadership team of twenty people. However, it would also include those that work behind the scenes at the organization that don't get the recognition that the top twenty get. Imagining this as a spider web helps me to visualize it properly. In the center ring is this internal network of ACCION Chicago. The next ring of the web consists of the top twenty, the behing-the-sceners, and those in the community that are active supporters of ACCION Chicago. This follows Uzzi and Spiro's model. Here is where I deviate from that.

Because ACCION has more locations and networks around the nation, there would be an additional ring in the web before the final, international network. This second-to-last ring would the network that all ACCIONs create between each other and their supporters in each community that is home to a sector of the ACCION organization. The very final ring is the international ring. This is where ACCION's concept comes full circle. While this organization is based upon the idea of using microlending domestically, the concept itself is absolutely international. Muhammed Yunus already proved that.

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